19 April, 2019

Blog

Rajapaksa Regime Must Speak With One Voice On Devolution And Reconciliation

By Harim Peiris –

Harim Peiris

President Mahinda Rajapakse has announced that elections to the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) would be conducted in September this year, ahead of the Commonwealth heads of government meeting (CHOGM) scheduled for November. The media minister, in a post cabinet meeting press conference has confirmed the same.  Prior to the public announcement, political insiders indicate that many private assurances regarding holding the NPC were given to various foreign leaders in return for their political support at crucial times, including to the Japanese and Indian prime ministers, resulting in the former hosting President Rajapakse in Tokyo in style while Sri Lanka’s poor human rights and reconciliation record was being hauled over the coals in Geneva last March and the Indians throwing their considerable political weight behind Sri Lanka hosting the CHOGM, in the face of a spirited attempt by Canada to effect a change, also based on the same human rights and reconciliation issues.

Aside from the political quid pro quos, the Northern Provincial Council and the elections to the same has some serious and significant merits on its own which should figure into government policy making.

1.       Democratization after the war

Sri Lanka concluded its war, almost four years ago and normalization of the former conflict areas is an essential component of a successful and durable peace. Sri Lanka’s strength is her democratic system of governance, despite all its flaws and weaknesses and this democracy must extend to the conflict affected people of the North and East in the first instance. Reestablishing democracy would be a key parameter and a measure by which Sri Lanka’s post war progress is measured. Paradoxically there are elected provincial councils in every other part of the country, including in the Eastern Province, but this same right, enjoyed everywhere else in the country is not extended to the Tamil people of the Northern province. Having conducted presidential, general and local government elections in the province, there are no credible or valid technical arguments for not holding the NPC elections, the Elections Commission having indeed confirmed that such elections can be held, with the required notice period of about two and a half months.

2.       Cornerstone of India’s Sri Lankan policy

Besides history and geography, India is as crucial to Sri Lanka’s future economic development as much as China is to Hong Kong. With the Indian economy poised to continue on sustained high growth rates, Sri Lanka can and must be integrated into this regional economic growth engine. The 13th Amendment to Sri Lanka’s constitution came about through the Indo-Lanka accord, which still remains an important cornerstone of India’s Sri Lanka policy. Whatever the antecedents of the Indo Lanka Accord, it did demilitarize every other Tamil armed group in 1987, including TELO, EPRLF and EPDP, bringing them all into the democratic mainstream and isolated, fought and weakened the LTTE. The provincial councils are the basis on which all the former Tamil militant groups are in the democratic mainstream. However in the very province in which they do their politics and have their constituencies, the provincial council is noted for its absence. Its alternative is essentially a former military governor, whom even the Supreme Court has held cannot exercise powers on behalf of the Council.

3.       Fulfilling an LLRC mandate

The Government’s own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) recommended that the political grievances of the ethnic minority communities in the country, most notably the Tamil community, congregated in the North be accommodated. The devolution of power being the principal method through which this can be done. It is surely clear, that the Tamil people are alienated from the Sri Lankan State and it is in Sri Lanka’s own interest to seek to be inclusive and tolerant rather than exclusionary and intolerant. The latter breeds’ resentment and eventually political violence, as we have witnessed through almost thirty years of civil conflict.

JHU and NFF oppose devolution and the NPC

In the context of the above, it is disappointing to note, that Government ministers Champika Ranawaka and Wimal Weerawansa, respectively leaders of the relatively small JHU and NFF components of the UPFA Administration, publicly and vociferously opposing the 13th amendment and democracy in the North through the Northern Provincial Council election.

There is a cardinal principal of governance known as “collective cabinet responsibility” the government must speak with one voice. This is not an academic nicety, it is crucial to our international credibility and domestic policy clarity. Undoubtedly democratic norms provide for diverse opinions, but within the ruling UPFA and amongst its cabinet ministers, surely the forum for such discussions and arriving at consensus would be either cabinet meetings, UPFA constituent party leaders meetings or the UPFA parliamentary group meetings or indeed bi lateral discussions with President Rajapakse, but surely not public meetings and public opposition to stated presidential policies. Such actions lend credence to the president’s political opponents and detractors who claim that such public opposition, by the President’s own ideological allies is actually at the behest of the president, to contrive a reason to not proceed with an election, which the UPFA is almost guaranteed to lose to the TNA.

It is in Sri Lanka’s own interest and the progress of post war reconciliation between her diverse ethnic communities that democracy in the former conflict areas of the North be reestablished and the elected representatives of the ethnic minorities in the North be provided with the same provincial devolution that has been accorded to the rest of the country, including the former conflict zones of the East.

Harim Peiris‘s writings may be accessed online http://harimpeiris.com

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    Very well put but will it happen?

    • 0
      0

      Dear Harim Peiris,

      You Say:

      “Rajapaksa Regime Must Speak With One Voice On Devolution And Reconciliation”

      I Say:

      1.) Rajapaksa Regime Must STOP LYING.

      2.) MUST STOP USING SHILLS AND MUST ALLOW FOR FREE EXPRESSION AND PEOPLES VOICES TO BE HEARD.

      3.) MUST FOLLOW THE RULE OF LAW

      PS: Do you know any Dictators who followed these rules?

      Speak With One Voice On Devolution And Reconciliation

      • 0
        0

        You Idiot

        MR or his regime or racist Tamil parties can not decide on devolution. It is the people of this country has the right to decide as the MR is to follow them and people like him as he has been done it so far since 2005.

  • 0
    0

    Come on Mr. Peiris, where do you find Water Monitors (gan kabaraya) with one tongue.
    Rajapakses cant even run a Dryfish Stall.

    • 0
      0

      He can do better with the First Lady and his Official Secy. in partner-
      ship in managing a Dry Fish Stall, if you read the Tsunami funds scandal.

  • 0
    0

    Harim the [Edited out].

    You wrote “Whatever the antecedents of the Indo Lanka Accord, it did demilitarize every other Tamil armed group in 1987, including TELO, EPRLF and EPDP, bringing them all into the democratic mainstream and isolated, fought and weakened the LTTE.”

    Did the war stop in 1987 ? ? Did it continue another 22 years til 2009 ?
    Bloody [Edited out], did CBK, your Madam, for 11 years of presidency do any damn thing ? other than losing the war ? can’t you remember losing 03 Army camps in north, losing some 1500 soldiers & losing 21 aircrafts at Katunayake arir base ? Harim [Edited out].

  • 0
    0

    No it shouldn’t. If it did, the sheep will wake up. We should never wake up the sheep. Not if we want our family to rule perpetually.

  • 0
    0

    Well articulate article and it deserves the attention of fair minded citizenry.

  • 0
    0

    Shouldn’t Harim be preaching to his own Leaders and advise them to get their act together first ?.

    Ranil keeps mum on Police Powers and Land Rights for Sambandan.

    But he is actively canvassing for the TNA ,even in remote ex LTTE turf.

    Sajith in contrast is upfront and says Sambandan must be given the right to rule the North.

    But he is is not committed to giving Sambandan his own Police.

    Mr Douglas Devananda has clearly stated that the Govt is a Democrativ outfit made up of several independent political parties and each is entitled to its own views.

    He says that the Govt however will have the final say and it is good enough for us.

    After all he is a Tamil from the North too. Isn’t he ?.

    The great majority of the inhabitant population not only agree with Doughie, but will say he is a brave Tamil who is fairdinkum too.

  • 0
    0

    The Rajapaksa model of government is a loose coalition of parties with widely divergent views and ideologies. Hence it is impossible that they will speak with one voice. One can only hope that the majority of the mainstream SLFP will be the moderating factor and not support the racist fringe groups like NFF and JHU. Tail wags dog? Not without the concurrence of the head.

  • 0
    0

    There is a chance for the Govt. to win given the tactics used by this
    regime and will not surprise the Voters at large. They have the advantage of the Forces to ensure a win. Once this is achieved at any cost the question of negotiating or PSC with the TNA will end. GOTA will go all out to ensure Army action in diverting and misdirecting Voters, even using the Election Com. indirectly. Henchmen of the Regime (Douglas, KP,Karuna etc) will be forced to play their part. Dont be surprised of an invasion of Basil, Meryin, Namal and the lot taking residence in Jaffna for a while.

    The JHU/NFF position is one of local political maneuvers with the
    blessings of MR no doubt.

  • 0
    0

    There are rumours that an “Urgent Bill” to abolish land and police powers of all Provincial Councils has been drafted.
    It may be hammered through parliament soon,with the two-thirds majority,before the Nothern Provincial Council election.

  • 0
    0

    And what should be that one voice be?

    Scrap 13 amendment.

  • 0
    0

    Harim Peiris,
    Man, why don’t you get to your thick head that ‘Devolution And Reconciliation’ are two different things. So many soldiers gave their lives to win the war not to give a piece of our real estate in a platter to terras. No Sinhalas would agree to it, only Colombians and WOGs. Then again, they didn’t fight the war.

    What are you talking Harim? Your madam had fooled us and conned us to vote for her in 1994. And she got a chance to call all the shots for eleven long years and solve everything the way she wants. What did she do? Ivan says she is a bandit queen but you have washed her dirty linen in the public for most of that time.

    Neither her wars nor her thavalams brought any peace to this country. Rajapakse have not just won the war but he even gave electricity without interruptions. Yet he hasn’t even finished his eighth year. He won all the elections; yet you guys call him a dictator. I think you guys are after a pound of flesh of his. Be patient, he’ll manage this quagmire with the people, the same way he sorted out the war.

    As for me, I propose him a plebiscite on ’13A’ for once and for all to come out of the ‘Devolution’ quagmire. ‘Reconciliation’ come after that; Tamils can tell us their grievances and we should immediately find ways to remedy them. ‘Devolution And Reconciliation’ do not tally.
    Leela

  • 0
    0

    Only thing that I see is the way of brain washing had changed dramatically.

    I remember how LTTE did propaganda. At one point they talked about political solution, there after LLRC and now even the people who talk about these things are different.

    Now, sinhala people are crying for Tamil power devolution.

    That is why I like some introduction of the back ground of these writers. then we can understand exactly what their mentality is and why they are so worried about Tamils.

  • 0
    0

    Harim
    Excellent intentions.
    But Sinhalisation has gone so far that the Tamils have lost even the North – Rajapakses have achieved one of the goals in Mahinda Chintana

  • 0
    0

    If reconciliation is the name of the game …. Christians and Catholics must first apologize and compensate Sri Lanka for all its crimes against the Sinhalese Buddhists….

    Harim Pieris how about an article on that…

    • 0
      0

      Nandana, Please stop living in the Past and come back to the Present! Two Wrongs do not make a Right! The people who are living now are not the same who lived at the time that Christians and Catholics ruled the Roost!

  • 0
    0

    Come on mr harima piers you should have shared some of this wisdom with big lady who was with the national question and did nothing- you were the one who who made the best of the party-now at least have the dignity to be silence with out coming out of absurd theories-

  • 0
    0

    Not only on the mentioned issue, they seem to have no common view about anything as I observe the incidents got to see in the past few months in the country. Nor have they got common policies in foreign affairs, Higher education, Education, Buddhist Affair NOT forgetting the justice.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 300 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically shut off on articles after 10 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.